The Federal Government has touted the recently-launched tractorisation programme to encourage mechanised farming, boost food and nutrition security and create more job opportunities for Nigerian youths.
Speaking during the launch by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and other relevant partners in Kaduna State, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar said that the ministry, BOA and manufacturers’ representatives have agreed to support the project by making tractors and implements available to farmers at concessionary deferred payment terms.
The minister noted that Nigerian farmers were expected to make a 40 per cent down payment while the balance of 60 per cent would spread over three years.
Abubakar stated that the ministry would acquire 10,000 units of tractors with implements and 50,000 units of assorted equipment to kick-start the programme.
The vital role of agriculture in the Nigerian economy, he pointed out, makes it necessary for the sector to be re-invigorated through tractor acquisition to achieve food and nutrition security.
The minister pointed out that it would lead to improved quantity and quality of food per person, reduce the drudgery of farmers in Nigeria, as well as increase productivity through tractorisation of the agricultural sector.
He revealed that Nigeria and Brazil entered into a bilateral agreement under the More Food International Programme (MFIP) of Brazil which culminated in an in-kind loan of $1.2 billion.
Speaking further, Abubakar noted that the agriculture sector remained among the key sectors driving Nigeria’s economy and it contributed 23.78 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), as well as the largest employer of labour in the country.
In his remarks, the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe – represented by the director of the Federal Department of Agriculture, Engr. Abubakar Abdullahi – stated that the programme would move agriculture from subsistence to commercial business venture, increase the economy of most farmers, drive development in the agrarian communities and encourage youth participation and engagement among others.
Umakhihe reaffirmed the ministry’s commitment to taking the tractorisation programme to a higher pedestal where all and sundry will acknowledge its modest achievements.
Earlier, the managing director, BoA, Alhaji Alwan Hassan said that the status of Agricultural Mechanization in the country was very low estimated at 0. 027hp/ha as against the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) recommendation of 1.5hp/ha.
He added that the success of agricultural production largely depends on the level of mechanisation.
In his goodwill message, the chairman of the Maize Farmers Association (MFA) of Nigeria, Kaduna chapter, Alhaji Lliyasu Muazu solicited more support from the management services providers to ensure that farmers benefit from the programme across the 774 local government areas.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information signed by Ikemefuna Ezeaja said the high point of the event was the official flag-off and distribution of tractors to Nigeria farmers.